Before Maria Sharapova started earning millions as a professional tennis player, she and her family had little to nothing: At age six, the Russian-born athlete and her dad moved to the U.S. to develop her tennis game with just $700.
While Sharapova trained all day at Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida, her dad worked multiple low-wage jobs to cover rent, necessities and tennis lessons. They slept on a pull-out couch in a small apartment owned by a middle-aged Russian woman, Sharapova writes in her new book "Unstoppable": "We paid $250 a month for the use of the kitchen and bathroom, as well as the living room, giving us access to the television, which was important. That's how I learned to speak English."
The sacrifice paid off: A decade after moving to the States, at age 17, Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004. That was the first of what would be five Grand Slam titles, and it came with a sizable paycheck: £560,500. Today, the 31-year-old has earned more than $38 million in career prize money, despite a 15-month suspension from the WTA, and was the world's highest-paid female athlete for 11 straight years.